Home Search Sitemap About Us
 
Monday, October 26, 2020
 
 

Introduction
Veterans List
Memorabilia

 
 
Introduction
 
Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret
  From the onset of World War I African-Canadians began to volunteer to serve their country in the conflict overseas. Many who volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) were turned away at the recruitment offices. In November 25, 1915 Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Fowler, Commanding officer of the 104th Battalion, requested

Document courtesy of The Black Battalion, 1916-1920: Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret, written by Calvin W. Ruck, published by Nimbus Publishing Limited
  permission to discharge twenty black recruits on the basis of race. He wrote, “I have been fortunate to have secured a very fine class of recruits and I did not think it fair to these men
that they should have to mingle with Negroes”. This rejection was met with protest in the African-Canadian community.

The Canadian military decided upon a compromise of sorts in which the decision to allow African-Canadian recruits to join was left up to the individual commanding officer. “…most of them were sent to the Western Front. A few Negroes were among these troops, for individual Blacks were permitted to enlist in such local regiments as would accept them ” (as reported by historian Robin Winks). Approximately sixteen black volunteers were accepted into the 106th Battalion Nova Scotia Rifles CEF between December of 1915 and July of 1916. When the Military Service Act was passed on August 29, 1917 volunteers who had previously been turned away were now forced to go to war.
 
No. 2 Contruction Battalion CEF
 
No. 2 Contruction Battalion CEF
Photo Courtesy of Windsor’s Community Museum (file P6110)
 
In addition, it was deemed ‘acceptable’ to form an all black battalion lead by white officers that would perform construction duties and other labour rather than armed combat. The first and only black battalion in Canadian history was authorized July 5, 1916. The No. 2 Construction Battalion, CEF, was based out of Pictou, Nova Scotia with recruits from across the country. Many local young men served in this unit as evidenced by the unit role as printed in The Black Battalion, 1916-1920: Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret by Calvin W. Ruck. The Chaplain of the No. 2 Battalion was the only Black commissioned officer in the British Forces in World War I compared to six hundred in the United States. On March 28, 1917 a force of six hundred and five black troops embarked from Pier 2 in Halifax heading to the Western Front. A recruiting station also operated out of the Parker family home in Windsor. Most served in Lajoux, Peronne and Alencon. The unit was disbanded on September 15, 1920 (p21).
 
No. 2 Construction Battalion badge
 
Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret
 
Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret
 
Photos courtesy of The Black Battalion, 1916-1920: Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret
written by Calvin W. Ruck, published by Nimbus Publishing Limited
 
Veterans List
 
The names on this list appear courtesy of The North American Black Historical Museum. Click here to see the list.
 
Memorabilia
 
James Jacobs was one of the young men from Windsor who served in World War I. Courtesy of NABHM.
 
Memorabilia from WWI Veterans James Jacobs and Pte. Kersey on display at NABHM -photo H.Soulliere
Medals earned by Pte. Kersey during WWI on display at NABHM - photo H. Soulliere

James Jacobs from Windsor served in World War I - Courtesy of NABHM
  Memorabilia from WWI Veterans James Jacobs and Pte. Kersey on display at NABHM -photo H.Soulliere Medals earned by Pte. Kersey during WWI on display at NABHM - photo H. Soulliere
 
Back to previous page
 

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

 

Copyright © 2005 Windsor Mosaic Website. All rights reserved.